What is your name, nationality, current function, and department?
My name is Martin Krentz and I am a German PhD-candidate in Erno Hermans’ Cognitive Affective Neuroscience lab, which is part of the Cognitive Neuroscience department of the RadboudUMC.
What is the topic of your PhD project and what does your work look like in practice?
In my PhD project I am studying catecholaminergic modulations of cognitive tasks and brain dynamics after acute stress. Previously, this meant a lot of scanning and stressing participants inside the MRI-scanner. Currently, I am working on the structural delineation and functional assessment of the small locus coeruleus in the mid-brain, which involves mostly tedious staring at blurry structural brain images to figure out how to best find useable delineations and deal with functional noise.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
I think becoming a scientist was never one of my plans. I only developed an interest in working in science late during my B.Sc. program. While I was still in school, I wanted to either study social work or study politics and philosophy. However, before that, it was always a dream of mine to open a bakery. This dream of course ignored the reality of having to get up way too early in the morning.
What has your career path been so far and how did you come to your current position?
After starting a B.Sc. program in Psychology at the University of Mannheim (Germany), I quickly discovered a growing interest in cognitive and brain mechanisms of psychiatric disorders, as well as fascination for in-vivo assessment of brain processes with methodologies such as fMRI. Consequently, I did an extended internship and worked as a research assistant at the ZI Mannheim, using a variety of imaging techniques for the study of elderly as well as schizophrenic patient groups. After finishing my B.Sc. program I moved to Groningen to follow the ‘Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience’ research master program there, which involved two full-time internships, both of which I spent at the Neuroimaging Center of the UMC Groningen. During this time, it became clear to me that I wanted to continue working with neuroimaging and combine it with my interest of system level impairments. Ultimately, this lead me to apply for a position with Erno Hermans here at the Donders Institute, on a project combining neuroimaging and cognition after acute stress, a great fit for what I was looking for.
What aspect of your job is or has been a challenge for you?
I think as someone who is easily hung up on details, one of my biggest challenges is to not get lost in the endless number of possible routes you could take within your projects, and not lose sight of the end goal.
Who inspires you the most and why?
Winnie the Pooh. Connected to the previous question, for me it was always amazing to see how a character could see such easy solutions to complex problems and find bliss in the most annoying or frustrating situations. This is something direly needed when being stuck or without solution.
What is your favorite book and why?
As a big fantasy and science-fiction fan, my favorite book has to be ‘The Name of the Wind’ by Patric Rothfuss, which I can recommend to anyone who liked e.g. ‘The Lord of the Rings’ or ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’.
What are you looking forward to in life?
Finishing my PhD and exploring new opportunities afterwards. Maybe I’ll open a bakery.